Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘art’

06 JANUARY, 2011

Georges Méliès: The First Cinemagician

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Earlier today, we looked at DJ Spooky’s exploration of the history of remix culture, in which he makes a passing mention of Georges Méliès — the seminal French filmmaker considered by many the father of special effects and referred to as “the first cinemagician.” Working in the late 1800s and early 1900s, Méliès pioneered techniques that are still among the most potent creative arsenal of today’s animators, from stop-motion to timelapse to dissolves to multiple exposures. His most influential work is collected in Georges Méliès: First Wizard of Cinema (1896-1913) — an outstanding 5-disc, 13-hour collection of 173 rare and rediscovered Méliès gems, along with a beautifully illustrated booklet featuring essays by acclaimed National Film Board of Canada animator Norman McLaren.

Exquisitely digitized and even featuring 15 hand-colored films, the collection shines a new light on Méliès’ imaginative visual storytelling and its monumental creative legacy. For instance, the stop-frame multiplication in his L’homme orchestre can be seen in countless iconic visual artifacts of pop culture, such as the video-cloning in Michael Jackson’s Billy Jean.

His work was even the inspiration for The Invention of Hugo Cabret, the stunning 533-page illustrated book we featured last year.

Méliès Encore: 26 Additional Rare and Original Films by the First Wizard of Cinema (1896-1911) came two years after the release of the first collection and offered, as the title promises, 24 more rediscovered and restored Méliès and two by Spanish filmmaker Segundo de Chomon, filmed in Méliès’ style and originally mistakenly attributed to him. Méliès even appears in one of them, l’oeuf du sorcier (The Prolific Egg) — a groundbreaking exploration of scale, multiplication and transitions from 1902 and truly earns the great filmmaker his reputation as a “cinemagician.”

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06 JANUARY, 2011

Sound Unbound: DJ Spooky Explores Remix Culture

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We’re big proponents of remix culture as the great enabler and cross-pollinator of creativity. Musician, producer, filmmaker and author Paul D. Miller, better-known as DJ Spooky, is one of remix culture’s most vocal and avid beacons, a rare champion of both its creative practice and its sociopolitical theory. In Sound Unbound, he curates a provocative and intelligent collection of essays drawing on the last 500 years of collaborative creation across music, art and literature and tracing everything from the history of stop-motion photography to Muslim influences on early hip-hop.

From an introduction by BoingBoing co-founder and open culture advocate Cory Doctorow to Brian Eno‘s exploration of the history of bells in Europe as a regulator of time to an investigation of the evolution of copyright law by Google’s senior legal counsel, the book features a wide and fascinating spectrum of texts by 36 of today’s most compelling, controversial and creative thinkers on remix culture.

Accompanying the book is a 45-track collage of a CD featuring fantastic, unexpected remixes blending rare historical recordings with modern music to deliver gems like “The Western Land” (William S. Burroughs and Iggy Pop with Techno Animal), “Erratum Musical (Score for Three Voices)/Voyage for Three” (Marcel Duchamp/George Lewis and Aki Takase) and “Eolian Episode/Gnossiene” (James Joyce/Erik Satie).

You can sample audio clips from it here, here and here, and catch an exclusive interview with DJ Spooky about the project.

As an artist, I’m a gatherer of personalities. I like pulling together radically different people and seeing what everybody has to say, and just kind of let it be a social sculpture.” ~ DJ Spooky

Sound Unbound is as much a research project into humanity’s propensity for non-linear thinking and co-creation as it is bold affirmation for the democratization of media and what we call combinatorial creativity.

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05 JANUARY, 2011

Zentangle: Pattern-Drawing as Meditation

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If greater creativity and more mental balance are among your new year’s resolutions, look no further than Zentangle — a type of meditation achieved through pattern-making, created by artist duo Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts. Each pattern is built one line at a time, organically combining simple patterns into complex zentangles in unplanned, unexpected ways that grow, change and unfold on the page as you enter an immersive state of flow. Totally Tangled offers a fantastic introduction to the relaxing and beautiful practice through step-by-step instructions and over 100 original tangles.

We’re particularly taken with Zentagle because its basic principle — building on simple shapes and combining different patterns into complex creativity — is such a beautiful visual metaphor for our core philosophy of combinatorial creativity.

Whether you’re a complete beginner or a professional artist, Totally Tangled can transform your casual, fidgety backpage doodling into a powerful meditative creative outlet. That, or at the very least rekindle your relationship with ink and paper in the midst of our digital flurry.

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05 JANUARY, 2011

Tim Flach’s Extraordinary Dog Portraits

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From photographer Tim Flach and Creative Review editor Lewis Blackwell comes Dogs — a series of incredibly artful, soulful portraits of man’s best friend.

With a potent blend of playfulness and profound respect, Flach captures the remarkable diversity of dogs, both of appearance and of character, and our complex, 150-century-old relationship with them in a poetic and spellbinding visual narrative.

They can entertain us, protect us, teach us how to love, do what they are told, and tell us what is going to happen next. They can even extend our lives. We think we train them to do the work, but they have in turn found a way for us to provide for them. This great form that has forged so many different kinds of dog is the inspiration for this book. The result is an unprecedented insight and visualization of what dogs are and can be.”

From shelter dogs to show-winners to dogs who sniff out explosives, the book spans an incredible range of personalities, portrayed in beautiful images generously stretched across full-bleed double-page spreads and lined with insightful commentary on everything from dog racism (did you know that there are more black dogs in shelters than any other fur color?) to historical background on how different breeds came to be and curious facts about them.

Dogs is as much a visually ambitious feat of photography as it is a rich and tender chronicle of our intense connection with these much-loved creatures — a beautiful intersection of humanity and, well, caninity.

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